Pleasure piers have been a constant feature of the British seaside holiday for the past 200 years.
How did something as simple as a landing stage became an ornate, complex, pleasure palace? I suspect it all started when locals began providing food for tourists waiting for boats, which attracted the attention of local entrepreneurs and, eventually, led to intense rivalry between resorts. Whatever the cause, over time piers became grander, longer and more prestigious - until the arrival of the package holiday that is.
Since the 1970s, we have lost many of our seaside piers to neglect, storms, fire and disinterest. They have become, in many respects, an endangered species – an anomaly in our twenty-first century world. At the same time, they are an important reminder of a simpler, perhaps happier, time. For both of those reasons, I find them fascinating. So in 2014 I set out to photograph every one of our remaining seaside piers.
What I found was a mixture of hope and despair. Some piers, like Brighton's Palace Pier, were thriving, some, like Penarth and Southwold, had reinvented themselves, some were just getting by and some, often the most beautiful, like Weston-super-Mare's Birnbeck Pier, were as skeletal and spooky as the ghost trains that once ran on them.
Many of my pier pictures are the basis for my designs and are available as cards, in the Great British Seaside section, but on this page I will share some of the pictures I've taken of Britain's piers along with my impressions and thoughts.
If you like what you've seen here, visit my Pier Project Blog for more pictures and thoughts!
Burnham Pier, Burnham-on-sea Clevedon Pier Birnbeck Pier, Weston-Super-Mare
Grand Pier, Weston-Super-Mare Bournemouth Pier Garth Pier, Bangor